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Old 05-05-2009   #11
Seattle/ Denver, Co/Wa
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 28
Permit is for this friday and saturday. It will be 2 rafts and 3 kayaks.

I was hoping to run it again on June 28th, as I have plenty of permits for that date as well.

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Old 05-05-2009   #12
purpleyak's Avatar
Whitefish, Montana
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 60
Westy Fun

Agreed on everything....

In my opinion the waves are not what will get you, it is the eddies and boils....

If you have a solid brace, then stay in the wavetrains and stay out of the eddies, these are more likely to flip you over when you are not paying attention and rolling up in them can be challenging if you have not seen water that big.

A lot of it is washed out and not as sharp and lower flows....keep paddling and be on top of your game.

All the rapids are pretty easy to navigate and lines are not technical at all.

Stay behind the rafts just in case of a swim that way they can pick you up.

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Old 05-05-2009   #13
Rez072's Avatar
Moscow, Idaho
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 88
You can portage Skull @ 14,000... probably at lower and higher levels too. Had a duckier do that this past weekend. Little D is portageable too on the river-left side. The other rapids are more difficult to poratge if possible to at all.

For Skull, there is a small eddy river-left just above the drop... Eddy-out, scout, consider running it (the line in most of the "terrible teens" is: enter right-center and head left immeadiately after the entrance holes. Running right through the extent of the rapid means flirting w/ Skull Hole, the most raucous hole on the stretch, as well as a possible stint in the Room of Doom [a large alcove that becomes harder and harder to exit at higher flows located at the end of the rapid river-right] and the Wall of Shock [a headwall in which the current plows into river-center at the end of the rapid. The Wall also defines the runnout of the rapid, which is river-left, and the Room, river-right])

To portage Skull, drag your boat along the rockfall (I never said it's an easy portage) and put in below the entrance holes to paddle down the river-left eddy and out of the rapid.

Don't miss the eddy or your line will be... interesting

Furthermore, don't back out! Go find someone who knows the ropes. You need III+ IV- skills and a guide to get through unscathed. Class III III+ skills with a guide = possible eddy and eddy-line or eddy fence problems. There are occasional IV consequenses. W/o a guide is not recommended.

Also, a boil or "eddy boil" as referred to earlier is water surging up from the depths after or during a rapid making an effect much like surging water in a pot while boiling.
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Old 05-05-2009   #14
Seattle/ Denver, Co/Wa
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 28
Advice is much appreciated. I would definitly be running last with two rafts in front, so I guess that adds a level of comfort.
Funny thing though- I'm not sure how to prepare for big water without just doing it.
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Old 05-05-2009   #15
caspermike's Avatar
Bozeman, Montana
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 5,507
don't forget to paddle and know how to peel in and out of eddies correctly you shouldn't have a problem..
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Old 05-05-2009   #16
jonny water's Avatar
Geologist, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 583
As said before, the rapids will not get you, the eddy boils and whirlpools will. If you are in doubt, don't catch any eddies! This can be a dangerous method of routing yourself down the river, but if the rapids are not too complicated, you should be able to pick out a safe line without eddying out.

Only eddy out after the main part of the rapid is over, then you will be safe.
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Old 05-05-2009   #17
El Flaco's Avatar
Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1984
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 1,879
Whoa, guys- Are you guys seriously saying that Westy at 15K has "Class II" consequences? I'd have to respectfully disagree. [Edit- some folks have posted since i started typing this up- I'm glad someone is saying there are serious consequences in the canyon]

I had a friend swim about 19K above Big Hummer. Since he didn't have a solid roll, I told him to stay near the raft; which he did - but the folks on the raft just sat there and watched him float downstream as I screamed at them to throw him a rope. I ended up chasing him almost the whole way through the canyon, with him grabbing the stern of my boat (a Pyranha Storm, which was a pretty small boat). I couldn't get him into an eddy because of the huge eddy lines, and we kept getting pulled into the next rapid and I'd get flipped trying to pull him to the sides, and he'd have to let go. I finally got him to shore in the scout eddy at Skull - a mile or so downstream - and he was too exhausted to pull himself onto the rock. I was fully exhausted too and we both just clung to the side until another paddler caught up with us.

Moral of the story: Westwater is no joke at higher flows, and as this guy's safety boater I should have told him to ride the raft that day. That was close as I've ever seen to a flush drowning- if I hadn't gotten him into that eddy, I think I wouldn't have had the energy to get him until after Last Chance, and that would have been too late; and it's very possible I would have had to ditch my boat and go swimming for him, as he was one extended downtime session away from unconsciousness. I might add that that guy hasn't been in a kayak since; and it's still the most serious boating situation I've personally been a part of.

At the very least, I'd recommend a hi-float PFD and a good wetsuit or a drysuit - the water temps right now will suck all your energy out of you.

It's great that you want to step it up, but since you asked, I had to share that story. Westwater at 5k-10k in the middle of the summer is a whole different story. As purpleyak said- keep very close to your safety and let them know they have to be watching you the whole time. A non-raft-assisted rescue will be very difficult. If you go in the water & they can't get you a rope immediately, you had better be prepared to swim like Michael Phelps and get ready for an MMA-style beatdown when you hit an eddyline.

I don't want to be a dick, or a downer, but you have to be realistic at these flows. There've been more than a few deaths by flush drowning at high levels:

Death on Westwater yesterday

American Whitewater - Accident

American Whitewater - Accident

American Whitewater - Accident
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Old 05-05-2009   #18
Avon, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 471
Amen Falco...i agree completely. Respect Westy at these flows (if you are a III-IV kayaker). I still get butterflys thinking about it at 15K.

Our group was solid (3 rafts- 5 kayaks) but not spectacular..had run salmon and MF and Snake at high water...but its just different in Westy with the confined space.

There was no time for scouting as you were flying down the main flow. We had a plan to eddy out after each rapid (had only previously seen the river at 3K - 7K a few times). After the first eddy when only half the crew could even make the eddy, we realized it was read and run thru the canyon. the 2 lead kayaks eddied left at mid Skull. To do so i had to break an eddy line guardian wave that was 6 feet tall. It flipped me straight back into the air, but luckily depsoited me in the eddy.

Was actually happy to get everyone safe thru that.

My opinion, if its your second year...probably get in a good raft.

Unless everyone else is very seasoned, kayaks and oar benders alike. You will crap your pants if you end up in the drink.
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Old 05-05-2009   #19
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 428
sorry to hijack the thread, but I am heading out may 15th to westy and am wondering if there is any good play at high water or if everything washes out. I have been at 5k and 10 k but never seen it (or any river) nearing the 20k mark.

To the original post (keeping in mind that I have not seen it this high), I would say to go IF you have a solid crew to help you who can handle a situation like flaco saw if you feel comfortable enough with your own skills.
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Old 05-05-2009   #20
El Flaco's Avatar
Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1984
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 1,879
IMO almost all the play washes out completely over 11K. Between 8K and 11K, a slightly bigger playboat works a little better to catch waves on the fly. You'll have a bitch of a time catching features with the spuds that are around today above 8K.

sweetrvr - I'd also add that you can always paddle through to the bottom of Marble, and then pull your boat onto the back of the raft and enjoy the ride to the bottom of Sock-it-to-me. Running Last Chance isn't too sketchy because there's a recovery pool below & the flatwater beyond, of course. Have fun.

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